What’s going on?

Saltwater intrusion diagram
U.S. Geological Survey photo. (Creative Commons 3.0)

Saltwater intrusion is the movement of saltwater into freshwater aquifers. In South Florida, the aquifer is experiencing increasing levels of saltwater intrusion.

This phenomenon is caused by the depletion of fresh groundwater due to pumping, wells, overuse of water by coastal populations and agriculture, and by changing the natural path of water flow. It can be exacerbated by sea level rise and storm surge.

As freshwater is depleted, saltwater rushes in to take its place.

Why it matters.

Saltwater intrusion threatens drinking water and may make it more costly. It also disrupts the natural balance of estuaries, important coastal resources for both humans and animals.

This issue is not likely to go away quickly as sea level continues to rise and Florida’s population grows, increasing pressure on water resources.

However, saltwater intrusion can be reversible with smart water management.

What you can do.